A Dutch silver windmill cup
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A Dutch silver windmill cup


A Dutch silver windmill cup
Maker's mark beaker in shield, Rotterdam, 1611
The cup engraved with flowers and foliage above flower bandwork, the lower rim of the cup with engraved letters L.B.H.B, the stem with three cast fish supporting the realistically-shaped windmill with on the back a blowpipe, stairs and clock whereby the hands are moving when the sails are in motion
20.5cm. high
marked on rim of body
Special notice

Christie's charge a buyer's premium of 20% (VAT inclusive) for this lot.

Lot Essay

Amongst the Dutch silver wager cups which were produced from the late 16th Century until the early 18th Century, the so called windmill cups were the most popular. The feet of these cups are in the form of the top part of a windmill and therefore they cannot be set down until they have been drained. The cup itself, usually divided into horizontal bands, might be decorated with engraved strapwork, flowers, drinking-songs, names or monograms.
Before drinking the cup one had to blow through the blowpipe on the backside, by which the sails were set in motion. At the same time a hand was set in motion indicating a figure from one to twelve. Today scientists do not agree on the exact function of the dial. Most authors suppose the hand indicated the number of beakers the drinker had to empty if he did not empty the cup before the sails stopped, others suggest the unfortunate had to offer his company as many drinks as the hand indicated (cf. Schadee) or that the hand indicated the next victim (cf. Exh. Cat. Nederlands Zilver).
The best known Rotterdam windmill cup was made for the local millers guild in 1721 by Hendrik van Beest (1680-1772). An anonymous Rotterdam master made a cup in 1614/17. The oldest extant Dutch windmill cup was made in Leeuwarden by Cornelis Floris around 1580. Gerrit Valck (1613-1672) from Amsterdam can be considered a specialist, at least six examples of his hand have come down to us (made between 1638 and 1645). Other examples were made in Enkhuizen, Dordrecht, Utrecht and Amersfoort. Outside the Netherlands windmill cups were made in Flanders and Germany.

Comparative literature:
Baudouin, P., et al. Edelsmeedkunst in België, Profaan Zilver XVIde, XVIII eeuw, Tielt, 1988, p.39.
Citroen, K.A., "De huwelijksbeker van Trijntje Coppit", in: Jaarboek Amstelodamum 70, 1978, pp. 201-213.
Exhibition Catalogue, Nederlands Zilver/Dutch Silver 1580-1830, Amsterdam-Toledo-Boston, Rijksmuseum-The Toledo Museum of Art-Museum of Fine Arts, 1979-1980, pp. 4,5,372,373.
Frederiks, J.W., Dutch Silver II, Den Haag, 1958, pp. X-XI, 116, 144, 196.
Klar, M., 'Ein trinkspiel August des Starken' in: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin Forschung und Berichte, 1961 No 3/4, pp. 52-59.
Molen, J.R. ter, Zilver. Catalogus van de Voorwerpen van Edelmetaal in de Collectie van het Musuem Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 1994, p. 96.
Schadee, N.,"Historisch Museum der Stad Rotterdam, Molenbeker
Rotterdam", in: Vereniging Rembrandt, Nationaal Fonds Kunstbehoud 1, 1991, pp.18-19.

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